AZUSA, Calif.. – Junior setter Melanie Rivas came off the bench to spark a lethargic set of Cougars and turn the tables to lead the NAIA’s No. 18-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 3-game sweep of Carroll College of Montana, 30-23, 30-16, 30-22, on the first night of the Azusa Pacific Invitational.
With the Cougars tailing 8-2 in the first game, Rivas came in for freshman Courtney Fox and immediately turned the Cougar fortunes. Spurred by Rivas’ digs and sets, Azusa Pacific went on a 7-1 run to knot the game at 9-9. Rivas then served the Cougars to 6 straight points to give Azusa Pacific a 22-20 lead that it did not relinquish.
“Melanie turned the tempo of the match,” said Cougar coach Gerry Gregory. “She made it easy for us to run our offense so that we didn’t struggle so much.”
Led by All-American Jenna Sagehorn the Cougars cruised the rest of the way to pick up their fourth straight win. Sagehorn finished with a match-high 17 kills. Freshman Katrina Anker sparked the Cougar offense with 6 kills, 5 of which came in the second game when the Cougars used a 14-4 run to run away from the Saints.
Seniors Christy D’Jernes and Roxanna Mercer collected 6 kills as well to lead a balanced offense. All-GSAC sophomore Jenny Brickner paced a Cougar defense that produced 7 blocks, 5 of came off the hands of Brickner, including 3 in the first game.
Rivas finished with 8 digs and 12 assists, half of which came in the first game.
In tonight’s other match in the Azusa Pacific Invitational, Biola defeated Notre Dame de Namur, 30-23, 30-22, 30-28.
Azusa Pacific, which is now 8-2 on the season, continues play in the tournament when it takes on Notre Dame de Namur on Saturday (Sept. 6) at 7 p.m. Biola faces Carroll at noon. The other noon match features Point Loma Nazarene against Notre Dame de Namur.